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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

ND faces challenging field over weekend

One might think the Irish would be riding high heading into the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee, this weekend.

They won the Mary Fossum Invitational on Sept. 14 and set the Notre Dame 54-hole scoring record in the Schooner Fall Classic on Oct. 6. But Irish coach Susan Holt said the team knows it is nowhere close to peaking.

The Irish, who were ranked 31st in the Golfstat NCAA rankings released Wednesday, will play 18 holes each day over the weekend in the 18th edition of the tournament.

At the Schooner Fall Classic in Norman, Oklahoma, Notre Dame finished tied for eighth place. The six-over-par score of 846 (290-277-279) posted by the Irish was enough to set the school record for lowest total team score at a 54-hole tournament.

Junior Talia Campbell was the best individual performer, finishing in 13th place with a one-under-par 209 (74-66-69), the second-best individual score in program history.

Even with these successes, the Irish can aim higher this weekend, Holt said.

“Overall, I think we’ve been playing pretty solid,” she said. “The really positive side is that we’re already competitive, and we still have a lot of room to be even better.”

In the upcoming tournament, the Irish will compete in a 17-team field that includes four teams in the top-25 – No. 21 Central Florida, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 11 Furman and No. 2 South Carolina. Notre Dame is ranked 31st.

“There are several teams in this field that are ahead of us, so this is an opportunity to improve our ranking,” Holt said. “If we can beat the teams head-to-head in this tournament, that would look good for us.”

A major component factored into the Golfstat rankings is how teams have performed head-to-head against top-25 teams.

The field also features top-40 teams Kent State (33), Denver (36) and Louisville (40).

“It’s a competitive field all around,” she said. “There are some teams that are ranked right behind us as well, so we need to make sure we’re staying ahead of them.”

This season, several players have stepped up at various tournaments to be Notre Dame's top scorer. Sophomore Jordan Ferreira and senior Kelli Oride have notched sub-70-stroke rounds, and Campbell and senior captain Ashley Armstrong have posted two each.

Holt said the key to a quality finish this weekend will be a strong team performance.

“We’ve had some really good individual performances, but we just haven’t really put it all together yet,” she said. “If everyone continues to commit individually to the areas they need to be improving, it will be reflected in our team scores.”

The Irish tee off Friday morning at the Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee, to open the Mercedes-Benz Championship, which will run through Sunday afternoon.